Here are stories from abortion doctors who have been doing abortions since before they were legal. They’ve seen what society is like with and without access to safe, legal abortion. They’ve seen how bad things were, how good they got, and how we’re backsliding toward a time when desperate women were willing to risk death to terminate their pregnancies. These are stories all of us need to listen to. Especially those who are uncomfortable with or opposed to abortion. Make sure you send this to every friend, acquaintance, and relation who is anti-abortion or who thinks that abortion is a necessary evil rather than a medical right. Send it to everyone who thinks abortion should be legal, but tightly restricted. Force them to confront this reality.
Make them deal with statistics like this:
“The evidence is clear and incontrovertible that abortion is a safe and an important part of women’s health and yet we still see this broad campaign of deception. You’re actually twice as likely to die from an injection of penicillin than an abortion, but no one is suggesting penicillin injections happen in a surgical ward.”
Make them confront realities like this:
“As a medical student in the early ’60s, I was regularly taking care of women who were suffering and dying from the complications of illegal abortions. There was a woman who had been turned down for an abortion at a nearby hospital. She went home and shot herself in the uterus and then drove herself back to the hospital.”
If they’re people of faith, draw their attention to the fact that people of deep pro-life religious conviction absolutely can choose life by choosing abortion:
“I once had a conversation with the man who was the head of ob-gyn at Lenox Hill; he was a devout and very conservative Catholic. But he’d seen women die of botched abortions resulting in gas gangrene of the uterus. He told me, ‘Anybody who has ever seen a 13-year-old die like that has to support abortion.’”
And if they think abortion will stop because they tell pregnant people about the horrors of botched abortions, and make up terrifying stories about what abortion entails, they’re so very, very wrong:
“No matter how much you shame and scare them, women will still come for abortions. Pretty recently I had this young woman, 15 maybe, and we did the procedure. I said, ‘Your uterus is empty, the procedure is over. I have to go check to make sure we got everything,’ and I left the room to examine the tissue. Then I came back and told her, ‘Everything’s fine, your uterus is healthy.’ And she said, ‘So … when are you going to use the steel ball?’ I picked my jaw up off the floor and said, ‘Steel ball?’ She said, ‘Well, I went to the crisis pregnancy center and they told me you’re going to put a steel ball that’s covered with sharp blades into my uterus and twirl it around.’ And this kid still came! I was thinking, How did you ever make yourself walk in the office believing I was going to do that?”
(If there is a hell, there is a very special, very hot place in it for those who run crisis pregnancy centers. The people who run them should consult their Bible for the commandment against lying. Thankfully, California is forcing them to tell the truth. I hope that we eventually end up with federal legislation ensuring every center in the country is required to do the same.)
So you see, anti-abortion people: there is no lie you can tell, no “abortion is murder!” slogan you can chant, no fairytale story you can weave about the joys of motherhood and/or adoption, that will stop people with unwanted pregnancies from seeking abortion. It’s not a question of whether abortions will happen. It’s a question of whether we care enough for people to help them terminate unwanted or dangerous pregnancies safely. And if you place the life of a cluster of cells that might* become a person over the health and well-being of the fully-realized pregnant person in front of you, you’re not pro-life. You’re pro-suffering. And that’s a truth I hope will wake you up weeping tonight.
*Don’t let yourself think that pregnancy inevitably leads to a healthy bouncing baby as long as we don’t terminate it. Miscarriage, critical failures of the placenta and other medical conditions, horrific defects that cause the fetus to not develop a vital organ or even their brain, and catastrophic birth trauma happen all too frequently. Pregnancy and childbirth are something of a crap shoot. So don’t tell me that clump of cells will definitely become a person. It’s not a person now, and may never be, and so that guilt trip doesn’t work.